The Faces: Dreams come true with Republic of Congo's Highway No.1
Updated 18:25, 27-Apr-2019
Zhu Danni
Closer cooperation on infrastructure, economy and technology between China and partner nations has thrived since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. 
Thanks to these deepening ties, more Chinese companies have expanded their operations overseas.
CGTN is sharing personal stories of employees who work in Chinese companies that benefit from the BRI.
In the eighth episode of "The Faces," Li Jiqin shares his experience of being the first project manager at the construction site of the Republic of Congo's Highway No. 1 project and how the project makes Congolese's dream come true.
The Republic of Congo's Highway No. 1./CGTN Photo

The Republic of Congo's Highway No. 1./CGTN Photo

The project, with total length about 600 kilometers, starts from Pointe-Noire, the nation's largest port city, to the capital Brazzaville. Since it was set up in 2016, the highway has cut the travel time from Brazzaville to Pointe-Noire from one week to six hours and increased the number of vehicles passing between the two cities per day from 100 to 4,000, providing vital trade links for the country. 
Li Jiqin joined China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. (CSCEC) straight after graduating from Tsinghua University in 1987. Currently, he's the executive manager of CSCEC. 
The Highway No. 1 project started in 2008 and lasted for eight years. Li was its first manager.
Li Jiqin at work in the Republic of Congo in 2008./Photo Courtesy of CSCEC 

Li Jiqin at work in the Republic of Congo in 2008./Photo Courtesy of CSCEC 

"The project was negotiated during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2006 and was the biggest infrastructure contract signed between the two countries that year. Before Highway No. 1 was constructed, there was no land transportation between these two cities," Li said, connecting the country's political center to its economic hub is a dream of the Congolese.
For the Republic of Congo, the Mayombe, with rich reserves of natural resources and wood, is a national treasure. However, the ancient forest lies between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. So, building a road through the forest becomes extremely hard. 
The Republic of Congo is a high-prevalence area of West Africa Tropical Diseases. Moreover, in the Mayombe Forest, there are almost all kinds of Africa Tropical diseases that people have heard or seen, like malaria, filariasis and drosophila. More than half of Chinese employees on the project have been infected with malaria, and some of them even had to suffer the shaking chills and high fevers from malaria once a week.
"Although we have suffered many hardships, for eight years, living conditions were very difficult, but our goal has been achieved. The economy in Congo has been greatly improved." Li said the reason why they can get through it is they have faith in themselves: They are representing China and their company. 
"Their prime minister kept saying that there are some people who blast cliffs and split mountains in the Mayombe Forest, and they are Chinese." During the eight-year construction period, CSCEC has helped elevate the construction skillsets of nearly 20,000 local workers by offering technical knowledge, training and practical project experiences.
Li Jiqin in his Beijing office./CGTN Photo

Li Jiqin in his Beijing office./CGTN Photo

For Li, who has served CSCEC for more than 30 years, has witnessed the tremendous change of Chinese companies "going abroad." Although it was very hard, they still feel proud. "Where the destiny of our nation lies, is where we should strive."
Supervisor: Mei Yan
Project manager: Li Tianfu
Director: Zhu Danni, Zheng Chenlei
Video editor: Zhu Danni 
Videographers: Fu Gaoliang, 
Animation and special effect: Pan Yufei, Zhang Tao
Designer: Saren
Editor: Khushboo Razdan, Keely Stanley
Chief editor: Li Shou'en